1. If President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had given an assurance to the world, saying, "The Hizmet movement never resorts to violence and it is an antidote to Islamist violence," people would still have nurtured doubts and they still would have asked if they, like Islamists, would resort to violence under duress.
This was the globally accepted thesis: Islamist violence is a mechanism that has emerged as a reaction to dictatorial oppression. Political Islamists have turned it into a strategic instrument, but their violence is essentially a reaction to dictatorship. As Turkey had no dictatorship like those in Middle Eastern countries, Turkey-based religious communities and movements haven't chosen violence as an instrument. If they, too, are exposed to oppression, they may choose violence as an instrument.
This thesis had been the dominant thesis in Western societies until recently. Erdoğan exposed the Hizmet movement to the oppression that typical Middle Eastern dictators impose on their rivals. At times, this oppression proved violent, such as in the death of a pregnant woman and her baby. Yet, Egypt's dictator didn't attempt to confiscate the property of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) or that of the Ikhwan. Erdoğan surpassed him in that regard.
Despite these pressures, the Hizmet community has never resorted to violence. It hasn't shown the slightest trace of violence. With this oppression and tyranny, Erdoğan has shown the world that while pro-violence organizations like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Qaida were performing all kinds of violence and an Islamic government in Turkey was sending them weapons and ammunition, a religious community in Turkey, namely the Hizmet movement, risked everything and distanced itself from the government that backed the jihadist organizations. It is now suffering from pressure and persecution because of this. But they haven't committed the slightest act of violence. A religious community that refrains from violence despite so much repression could serve as a model for non-violent Muslims all around the world. With his oppression, Erdoğan is boosting this perspective and helping the Hizmet community. People all around the world reason this way: If this community does not resort to violence to revolt against Erdoğan's oppression, they will never resort to violence; we can work with them.
2. Erdoğan has ordered dozens of operations against the Hizmet community. Women, police officers, prosecutors and small business-owners were jailed. But not a single piece of evidence of illegality was found in hundreds of raids. The police couldn't find a single box or purse of money or a single weapon. Yet the police operation against the sons of four ministers of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) found boxes and safes full of money, plots, illegality, prostitution, influence-peddling, etc. If half of the operations conducted against the Hizmet community had been launched against the local leaders of the AKP, the whole country would smell like the Ümraniye district garbage dump. You couldn't get anywhere near it because of the stench.
With these operations, Erdoğan has shown the grassroots of the Hizmet community and the small business owners who support the community that every single penny donated to the community has been spent properly. Not a single member of the community can be accused of embezzlement. None of them had a huge balance in their bank accounts. None of them had a shoebox full of dollars. Thus, Erdoğan helped to reinforce the trust of the Hizmet community's supporters.
If these operations had not been launched, the people who support the community might have developed suspicions about how their donations are spent. Though AKP supporters siphoned funds from charities like Deniz Feneri (Lighthouse), the Hizmet community's supporters do not have any doubts about misappropriation.
Thanks to these operations, Erdoğan has eliminated such doubts. Even if the Hizmet community had provided its donors with all the receipts for how their money was spent, people might still harbor suspicions. But Erdoğan used all the power of the police, the military and the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) against the community and no evidence of corruption could be found. This, in turn, has helped the grassroots develop an unshakable trust in the community. This is priceless help to the Hizmet community.
3. Though coming to power with only 34 percent of the vote, Erdoğan governed the country as easily as shooting fish in a barrel, despite the military's resistance. He tackled monstrous problems with dexterity and managed to dispel the doubts about him without resorting to social polarization. Many secularists hadn't believed that Erdoğan could be such an effective ruler.
Then, the AKP secured 47 percent of the national vote in 2007. It was able to govern the country successfully, despite the military issuing a memorandum and that the Constitutional Court might shut it down. It weathered the memorandum as well as a coup attempt. In the 2011 election, it secured 49 percent of the national vote. It governed the country smoothly until February 2012, even until the Gezi Park protests. It survived those protests with relatively little damage.
However, when the AKP broke away from the Hizmet community and the community withdrew its support from the AKP, the AKP was no longer able to govern the country smoothly. The AKP secured virtually 50 percent of the national vote, but no one can say the country is stable. The AKP has made a mess out of every errand it embarked upon without the support of the community. The Syrian crisis is an example. The Kurdish settlement process is another. The Mavi Marmara initiative -- a ship carrying humanitarian aid attempting to breach Israel's blockade of Gaza -- is another. There are multiple examples.
Although the AKP is enjoying its most powerful period and it has been controlling the media and the bureaucracy since 2013, it has been unable to govern the country or ensure stability. It makes one mistake after another.
This makes intellectuals reason as follows: Apparently, what drove the AKP forward was the Hizmet community's wisdom. Since the community withdrew, the AKP has been finding hard to survive. It cannot provide stability in the country. Every day, something is broken. By waging a war with the community, Erdoğan has proved that it was the community's wisdom that ensured stability in the country. Thus, any political movement that seeks to have a say in Turkey will want to cooperate with the community to take advantage of this. wisdom.
In this way, Erdoğan is playing into the hands of the community...
Published on Sunday's Zaman, 6 December 2015, Sunday